I deleted all social media, and had to learn to be okay with being “disconnected” to be connected in real life. Margie died, and we hugged our friends in their grief. I designed, patterned, and sewed new products at my seamstress job, and learned the trick to efficiently measure out enough yardage to cover a small house. Sunday nights brought driving to Ann Arbor for college-age life group and hugs from Val.
We loaded an electric organ onto a tiny trailer in the freezing cold. All of the kids played ping pong with golden books for paddles, yelling at the top of their lungs. We stood for Christopher’s funeral in the back of an Orthodox church. I continued to study through the Old Testament books. We took the youth group on a winter retreat and then went into quarantine.
Dad turned 50, and we celebrated with old friends. New flooring was laid in the living room, with sawdust filling the house. I prepared to teach English in South America that summer, but never got the chance to go. My reading pile consisted of commentary after Old Testament commentary, and I loved it. I facilitated a spring women’s small group study, and we worked our way through Colossians.
An early Easter came, and I drove a church van filled with teens across the state for a mission trip. We came home and taught the youth group how to play KaBoom, which felt like the beginning stages of summer. Nathan and Cameron started filling our house with music, which was to become a regular theme.
I met baby Echo for the first time, and got to soak in all of the baby cuddles. Megan and I kept on patterning and sewing at Moon Valley while listening to as many audiobooks as the hours allowed. Grace and I took a trip to Mount Vernon, and toured all the local shops together. I was afraid to call a lifelong friend, but finally did, even as I cried in the darkened church hallway.
Gralene and I finished working our way through all of the Harry Potter films. The youth group got to test out the archery tag bows, and played speed volleyball every evening. I prepped and packed for youth camp, and Amanda and I made #PartyMarty shirts. The red team may have lost, but I’d do it again just to be with such a good-natured group of students.
The house became a construction site, and I got used to cooking for a crowd of teens every day. We decorated the church for Vacation Bible School, and I enjoyed my group of 5th graders, unenthusiastic as they were. I turned twenty-three, and finished sewing the first quilt of the year. The Ziegler clan gathered for a reunion and brought enough food to feed a crowd for a week.
Fair week came, and we got to know the ticketbooth workers well. I brought home a portable dishwasher, which was a lifesaver. All of the electrical poles in our backyard got knocked over while Mom was out of town, and I tried to keep the generators running and the basement dry until Charlie came and fixed the power. I finished two more quilts, and spent an afternoon at Sauder Village with some of the girls. Bitta started school, while the bathroom construction got closer to completion.
A vanload of the boys and I went up to the cottage for Labor Day weekend, and it was refreshing to get away for a few days. I got to spend a day with Val, which I loved. Sunday afternoons were set aside for small groups with the teen and college girls, and quickly became a favorite couple of hours of my week. My fall trips to Mount Vernon began, but I didn’t realize how regular they would become. Shelly and I spent an afternoon talking over chai, and we both agreed that our friendship over the past 14 years has been a true gift from God.
Some of us went to West Virginia to help family pack up a home, and a pepper spray gun accidentally got shot off when we most needed a laugh. We lost a family friend to COVID, which made everything feel unfair. A small group of us got together for a hymn sing, and it was just the type of refreshment I needed. I started linguistic classes online. Guy and Krista moved home.
November felt like kind of a blur, but I finally got to meet baby Monty, who is as sweet as his parents said. I spent a week watching the little Lees, which also happened to be the week of the first winter snow. We moved “the community couch” into our living room, even though Mom threatened to boot it to the garage. The whole family gathered in one house for a prolonged Thanksgiving celebration, and suffered through another year of family pictures.
I was really only home on weekends, but observed Advent during the week with extended family. It was easy enough to fall into a rhythm in a new house. My girls and I had a bubble tea party with nearly twenty pounds of popping bubbles. I hit a deer in Cam’s truck, and didn’t get to harvest the meat, which seemed like a pointless waste of life. Grace and I had Bible study with Grandma, something to which we didn’t know we could look forward as children. I finished up two more quilts in time for Christmas.
This year I felt both displaced and at home simultaneously, and am trying to discern which is the wisest way to walk. Every “next month” has been unpredictable, but good in its own way. It’s been a very strange, yet very normal year.
The LORD has continued to be faithful and compassionate, teaching my heart to love Him more and find contentment in His guiding. And I know that 2022 will find Him the same.
Soli Deo Gloria.